Fear

Once upon a time there was a young girl. She was naive and impressionable. But she was quite bright so landed herself a place at university.

Her parents warned her about all the evils she would face. Drugs, sex, although they forget to mention rock and roll.

They filled her head with so much fear that she went to sleep at night worrying what would happen to her in this strange new university life.

Not much actually. It was all perfectly civilised, apart from one man in the park. University hall of residence was in a rather nice green part of the city and the walk to class involved a nice jaunt across the park, although most of my idle friends got the bus or paid for a lift with rich car-owners.

So, there I was happily walking across the park when a dog, maybe an Alsatian, (I don’t know why I thought it was an Alsatian) came up and sniffed my arse. Not being frightened of dogs, I didn’t bat an eyelid. Until I turned round and saw a man running off and not a dog, Alsatian or otherwise, in sight.

He was short, dark-haired, and maybe slightly oriental. I freaked, and turned up in class shaking.

After the lecture I went to the pub and downed a couple of swift whiskies, frightened of what might have happened, not what did. Because the truth was, there was no-one around apart from me and him as I had walked happily across the green open space.

One night, our naive student went to a nightclub with half a dozen friends. The nightclub was not in the best area of the city. In fact, it was in what was later to be part of the city’s riot area. Immigrants, prostitutes, drugs, and plenty of violent crime.

When she collected her coat, she noticed the belt was missing from her lovely green velvet jacket. She told her friends and went back to ask if the cloakroom staff could find it. They couldn’t.

By the time she came out of the club, her ‘friends’ had disappeared. She turned around and the club had shut up. There were no more taxis. She was alone in one of the worst areas of the city and had a couple of miles to walk to get back to hall of residence. There were no mobile ‘phones back in the 70s.

So she walked. There wasn’t a lot of choice really.

In fact she saw hardly anyone. Nor did anyone approach her, unlike the previous daylight park incident. But fear? At 2-3am in an inner city slum area? Oh yes.

But did I put myself in the way of trouble? I don’t think so.

What about my so-called friends? I resolved to have nothing to do with them after we left university because quite clearly they didn’t give a shit about me. I had the rest of my course to complete and it would have been too difficult to cut everyone off before that so I kept up the so-called friendships. No-one knew or seemed to care about how frightened I had been that night.

Like everyone I’m hypocritical. I exempted two of those friends because they were a couple – the rest of us were single – and I didn’t want to cut them off. I’m still in contact with them now. But they were just as callous as all the others and had no interest in how I got home safely.

Bastards. All of them.

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About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
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14 Responses to Fear

  1. Vicky says:

    Phew, that’s an unusual post, was it something still floating in your mind, or has something prompted it?
    I will say, you’ve hit on something that often happens. We have no fear in somewhere that by all accounts we expect to be safe……daylight……..pleasant area etc. so drop our guard down, in doing so, we become more vulnerable. Whereas somewhere where we expect danger, because of how we’ve been conditioned ie. darkness…….dubious area, we are far more aware of our surroundings……… I’m guessing in your mind it wouldn’t have been an Alsation in the darkness of the inner city.

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    • Prompted by EllaDees comments back on the supermarket/rape post. [Perhaps supermarkets are a different type of rape too].

      I’m far more frightened of people/men than dogs.

      Why should I have been afraid to walk across the park in broad daylight? How ironic that I was sexually molested in daylight in a nice place and walked home through a dangerous area without a problem.

      Our history teacher told us how she was walking through Leeds one day (maybe Bond St?) and someone groped her breasts.

      Both hers and mine are small incidents in the scheme of things. It still wasn’t nice.

      But WHY do we condone this abuse?

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      • Vicky says:

        What I was trying to say is that we are conditioned by what we are told, see and read.
        I can walk somewhere in daylight and have no fear, but walk the same place in the dark and I’m continually checking behind me for fear of someone lurking in the shadows. It’s still the same place, but my senses become more aware of what could happen, because of how my mind has been conditioned.
        I wouldn’t say we condone it, but in the situation above, if I was attacked at night, some would say it would be more expected than a daylight attack.
        Does that make more sense about what I’m trying to say? (I’m not too good at putting into writing what is in my head)

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        • Yes we are conditioned. But some places are – or were – statistically more dangerous than others. This was like walking through Chapeltown (Leeds, Uk for non Brit/Yks readers), in terms of crime, drugs, Afro-Caribbean population, beautiful buildings, and even down to the riots in 1981. Sometimes I was wary of walking through there in daylight – and part of that was definitely my racist indoctrination as a child (ie all black men are gun-toting drug-dealing violent criminals).

          A does not like parks. We used to cut through one to get to the main street in Newcastle, and he would never touch it after dusk, not helped by the fact we knew someone who was mugged in there. I would use it, because I thought I should be able to. A bit like the Reclaim the Streets movement. I tried to look up statistics and ended with pages about WW2 bombing attacks 😀

          What griped me about the situation above was that I didn’t choose to put myself in a poor violent area after 2am. I did choose to go for a daylight walk in the park when some pervert groper came to molest me. But yes, our preconceptions and prejudice would say for the one ‘that was terrible and shouldn’t have happened’ and for the second ‘ you were foolish and lucky to get home safely’.

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  2. EllaDee says:

    Woo, that is freaky, and I also would be very disturbed by that sort of ‘interaction’…. and the thing is no harm done this time, but what (not if) happens when the behaviour escalates as it so often does. When out in a group we always check with each other before leaving to make sure we are ok to stay, or get home. We also have strategies re texting, calling later in the night/morning or when safe at home… I’ve shared cabs many nights but If I make a judgement call to go on my own, then it’s up to me. As we dicussed even when people are caught the punishments are not effective. I think the same as for convicted paedophiles, at the very least any convicted sex offenders in the area should be publicly advertised for awareness. Not a perfect solution but such awareness could make a huge difference. Also the message to report any incidents to the cops, as a bigger picture may emerge… and for the cops to take it seriously. After the Jillian Meagher tragedy, women came forward to say they had been harassed in the same area late at night… too late. I don’t think everyone condones this abuse, possibly people who don’t believe it will ever affect them or theirs, do not give it the priority it deserves. And it’s a damned if you do and damned if you don’t scenario, should we be so afraid to walk the streets, no and yes.

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    • Perhaps with age comes a sense of wisdom and responsibility. Such strategies are eminently sensible, although annoying that they need to be employed. They are also made much easier by mobile ‘phones. Even taxis are not always safe are they? Leaving Málaga bus station after midnight in a totally desolate area I wondered about the taxi driver who pulled up. But what was the choice? And he was extremely nice so unfair to judge everyone by the odd bad apple, but we need to be aware of those apples 😦

      The JM murder and the later reports about harassment remind me of my walk in the park incident. I didn’t think of reporting it, and no-one suggested it. The woman I went for a drink with after our lecture went on to become a police officer, even she never mentioned it. Just some guy groping a young woman in the park because he felt like it. We aren’t taken seriously, so we don’t report assaults.

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      • EllaDee says:

        The JM murder circumstances were classic 20/20 hindsight: no-one to blame, except of course that ‘injustice system’. The reporting culture, or lack thereof is something that needs to change, and well taxi’s… I’ve only had one slightly dodgy taxi experience, and got the driver to drop me at a neighbour as no-one was home at my house, but I always get in the cab, call the G.O. and he waits on the balcony until I arrive – all annoyingly should not be necessary in a decent world…

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        • No-one to blame. Of course not. No one to blame for crime. That’s before we even get to the system and society. The reporting system won’t change.

          We were mobile phoneless for a while. My partner went missing in the UK (I was in Spain) and I couldn’t raise him for days, I panicked and reported him missing to the police. It is so worrying.

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          • EllaDee says:

            That would be terrifying, the stuff of nightmares… I’m not sure I would call it panicking… reporting him missing was a good call.

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          • The ferry company wouldn’t tell me whether he was on the ferry, I would have given them any information they asked for – I had booked the fucking ticket!! He was actually on it.

            The police were disinterested. He finally got in touch with me from somewhere near Madrid 😦 I think someone rang me back after three days from the police. Great. he could have been lying in a ditch.

            We are now mobile ‘phoned up to the eyeballs. One each and a spare. Like your strategies we text when apart, travelling separately.

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  3. Damn straight kick those so-called friends to the curb. I am always dismayed how some people can turn a blinds eye if it does not fit in with their own agendas. Obviously your safety did not fit in with theirs.
    Glad all was well and you are not telling a different story today. I appreciate you sharing your experience which I shall share with my daughter. It makes a great point about friends, or so called friends I would rather say.

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    • Thanks. I said I was hypocritical because I made excuses for the couple but they were no different to any of the others. I went on to be their bridesmaid and regularly have stayed at their London homes. The bottom line is they didn’t care enough about me. I can’t imagine leaving someone in an inner city area in the early hours of the morning.

      I’m glad it worked out too. Phew!

      Friends are hard to find.

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  4. Yes, friends are awfully hard to find. I’ve been treated like it didn’t matter at all if I lived or died and still tried to be friends with those people because I didn’t know how I was supposed to ‘find’ other friends. Now I think I either appear to be too cloying or too hard to get to know, sometimes cold. I’m sure it’s the emotional battering making me bob and weave.

    I’m glad you made it out of both those situations.

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    • Thanks, so was I!!

      I think when younger I had an ideal about ‘friends’ and ‘friendships’, all the crap about you help each other when stuck etc etc. Life just doesn’t work like that. We’ve had some good neighbours in our life though, who have been friends at the time, but it doesn’t continue afterwards. As we’ve moved from one of the country to another and lived in four different countries, I don’t suppose that helps either 😀

      I don’t think making friends (rather than gathering a huge circle of acquaintances) is easy at any age – but what on earth does a middle aged woman do to meet someone remotely interesting? I’m not into womens circles, or coffee mornings or craft clubs, so … I can make my own coffee and sew/knit what I want. About the only thing I would do might be join a walking club. Although we did that before and nearly pulled our hair out because they kept stopping for coffee breaks. And it was very cliquey too.

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